As Israel’s November election approaches, the far-right coalition led by Bibi Netanyahu seems ascendant. The center-right coalition which formed the current caretaker government is in shambles and in no shape to mount a serious challenge. While Bibi is himself almost as far to the right as one can be in Israeli politics, he has flirted, in the coming election, with figures even farther to his right.
The latest example is his playing shadchan for a merger of the two Judeo-fascist parties: Betzalel Smotrich’s Religion Zionism and Itamar Ben Gvir’s Jewish Power. Each party alone would probably not pass the threshold to enter the Knesset, thus forfeiting all their votes. But together, they will not only enter the Knesset, the seats they win may play a decisive role in securing a 61-seat majority for Netanyahu’s Coalition of the [Judeo-Nazi] Damned.
I’ve urged in my Twitter timeline that every foreign government, especially the Europeans and Americans, boycott such a government.
Why? Smotrich is a homophobe and “reformed” Jewish terrorist. A former top Shin Bet official claimed he transported a bomb meant to explode in protest over the Gaza withdrawal. The only reason he failed was that police stopped his vehicle thus ending the plot. The Times of Israel reported:
Smotrich was held by the Shin Bet security service for three weeks on suspicion that he was planning to…damage infrastructure to protest the withdrawal. He was part of a cell of five people who were caught…planning an attack….
Ilan [former Shin Bet number 2] appeared to confirm this…telling the gathering: “I interrogated Smotrich…He is a terrorist. He’s Jewish, but he’s a terrorist,” Ilan reportedly said. “At the time of the disengagement he wanted to blow up cars on the Ayalon highway, at rush hour, with gasoline. We caught him with 700 liters (185 gallons) of the stuff.”
Smotrich told the Knesset that Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion should have “finished the job” and expelled all Palestinians from Israel in 1948. He also once said that Israel’s Palestinian Bedouins were a “time bomb.” Needless to say, the phrase “finish the job,” was used after World War II by anti-Semites who decried that the Nazi had not completely wiped Jews off the face of the earth. It’s no accident that an Israeli fascist should echo the terms of Euro-fascism.
In 2005, in response to the Jerusalem Pride parade, he mounted his own “Beast Parade,” bringing donkeys bearing “Beast Pride” signs. Smotrich himself drove an SUV with a “Kahane Pride” banner. At the gay pride event that same day, ultra-Orthodox homophobe-murderer, Yishai Schlissel, stabbed and seriously wounded one of participants. At the 2015 parade, he attacked a second time, stabbing six people, including a young girl who later died. The second attack came after he was freed from prison. On his release, he was never monitored.
The Israeli Kahanist called homosexuality “incest” and blamed, without proof, an LGBTQ party for causing a surge in COVID cases. He also decried the gay community for controlling the media and ensuring, via censorship, that his voice cannot be heard. It sounds like he’s lifting GOP talking points.
When he planned a trip to visit far-right Jewish groups in the UK, the Board of Deputies told him to stay home. They wanted nothing to do with him. In response, he said that the Jews of Britain would suffer the same fate as the Jews of Germany during WWII.
Smotrich is an Orthodox Jew and settler. He once told a reporter that Avigdor Lieberman (whose nickname is Yvet), who campaigns against Orthodox Judaism’s dominaton of Israeli secular society, should be “killed.”
He also exposes the homophobic views of the entire Israeli Orthodox community and the Arabophobic views of most Israeli Jews. Netanyahu’s alliance and possible appointment of him to a cabinet post, is a slap in the face of Israel’s LGBTQ community. It exposes the ugliness at the heart of Israel, and forever tarnishes the notion that it is a gay-friendly country.
Ben Gvir is a devout Kahanist who once boasted that he ripped the Cadillac hood ornament from PM Yitzhak Rabin’s car. He bragged:
“We reached Rabin’s car, we will get to Rabin too.” Rabin was assassinated later that year.
seeks, as Barak Ravid notes in the tweet featured below, to expel Israeli Jews are “enemies” and “disloyal” to his Judeo-fascist state. He also seeks to invoke the death penalty for acts of terrorism. By which he means Palestinian terrorism of course. His brand of Judeo-fascist is not a terrorist at all. But a freedom fighter for Jewish rights.
These are the “shining lights” Netanyahu welcomes into his future coalition. As part of the merger talks, the potential future PM certainly offered enticements in return for the two agreeing to join forces. Israel media is full of reports that Ben Gvir will get a cabinet post.
SCOOP: Senator Bob Menendez warned Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu that if he forms a government after the Nov. 1 elections that includes right-wing extremists, it could harm U.S.-Israel bilateral relations, @alaynatreene & me write on @axios https://t.co/EgfFsdR8P4
— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) October 1, 2022
Sen. Bob Menendez, one of Israel’s major water carriers in the Senate, met with Netanyahu earlier this month. The meeting did not go well–at least for Bibi. Menendez. to the Israeli’s chagrin, repeatedly warned him that including Ben Gvir and Smotrich in his potential government, including offering them cabinet posts, would be unacceptable to the US:
Menendez, chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee one of the most outspoken Democratic supporters of Israel in the Senate, specifically mentioned Jewish Power party leader Itamar Ben Gvir, a Jewish supremacist who will likely be a minister if Netanyahu wins the elections.
Menendez told Netanyahu he has “serious concerns” over a possible partnership with “extremist and polarizing individuals like Ben Gvir” in a potential future government, the sources said.
“People who were in the room saw how pissed off Bibi got” with Menendez’s comments, one of the sources said.
Menendez did not back down from the issue even after Netanyahu expressed his annoyance over his comments, the source said.
“The senator told Netanyahu he needed to realize the composition of such a coalition could seriously erode bipartisan support in Washington, which has been a pillar of the bilateral relationship between the U.S. and Israel,” the source added.
A US official said: “Anyone with an ounce of common sense understands that this [Ben Gvir becoming a minister] is deeply problematic.” He added that “this would be a huge problem” and that Netanyahu is “well aware of this.” An American Jewish leader likened the Kahanist to the Ku Klux Klan.
Bibi doesn’t like being told what to do. It raises his hackles. Nevertheless, he usually knows when he’s met a superior force and backs down. And the US, despite his claims to wrap us around his little finger, is such a force. So it remains to be seen how he will deal with this opposition, but he will more than likely back down.
One possibility would be for Netanyahu to send Ben Gvir to the back benches, while appointing another MK from his Party to a ministerial position. This would offer the Party leader access to power through his colleague, while it would solve Netanyahu’s problem with the Americans; also allowing the Biden administration to say it succeeded in moderating the incoming government. None of which will be true, since Ben Gvir will be as powerful as he would be as a minister.
50 US senators wrote a letter demanding a credible, independent investigation. Menendez’s stern lecture could only have happened if cracks like these are developing in the Democratic mainstream. When a stalwart pro-Israel pol like Menendez reads you the riot act, you know there is something afoot. Maybe not a sea change. But the first signs of one. Perhaps they are developing a bit of a spine when it comes to Israel. The consensus is beginning to shatter. And this will only increase as naked fascism becomes even more ascendant in Israel.
It is critical that foreign governments say, in concert and in no uncertain terms, that such a far-right government filled with out-and-out fascists is unacceptable. They must not only make public statements, they must support them with action. That should include threats to withdraw aid and withdraw “protection” provided to Israel via votes on the UN Security Council. It also could include supporting a war crimes investigation by the ICC.
The most crucial thing to remember is that whether either of the two fascists gets cabinet posts is irrelevant. If they do, it won’t change the radical Blood and Soil agenda of Israeli politics. It won’t decrease Israeli hatred of Palestinians or lessen their suffering. The trajectory of Israel is clear. Its arc definitely does not bend toward justice.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.